Bairstow: I’m ‘young Jonny’ again | Jamie Overton innings ‘exceptional’
Jonny Bairstow scored back-to-back Test centuries; His partnership with debutant Jamie Overton helped England claw back from 55-6 to 264-6; The third Test continues tomorrow from 10.15am, live on Sky Sports Cricket; Play starts at 11am
By Megan Wellens
Last Updated: 24/06/22 8:55pm
Jonny Bairstow was visibly emotional after a “special” Test hundred at his home ground of Headingley and was singing the praises of an England side that is allowing him to play like “young Jonny” again.
Scoring back-to-back hundreds for the first time in his Test cricket career, Bairstow helped England work back from 55-6 to 264-6, ending the day on 130no in an unbroken 209 partnership with Jamie Overton.
It was the second astonishing display in two weeks from Bairstow after his heroics at Trent Bridge in the second Test and he believes it was another special moment rooted in the positive culture that this England Test side is trying to build, allowing him to play as freely as he did when he was younger.
“Yeah it feels amazing, you know how much this place means to me,” said Bairstow to Sky Sports.
“Being a Yorkshire lad scoring a Test hundred at home is pretty special and all my family and mates are here as well.
“Every time that you score a Test hundred it is emotional.
“You know what I am like, it means so much to play for England in Test cricket and that is the kind of guy I am.
“I wear my heart on my sleeve, it is not always everybody’s cup of tea but that is part and parcel of the game we play.
“I absolutely love representing this team and I am really excited about the journey we are starting to embark on as a group.
“You want to be turning up in each game and you want to be contributing a lot.
“The way I am striking the ball I couldn’t be more pleased with but I think it is also the more relaxed me at the crease, I am not necessarily as tense or whatever it is.
“I have gone back to young Jonny when you are just watching and seeing the ball.”
Despite being in fine form, Bairstow admitted he has had to go back to basics and “declutter” his mind to regain his rhythm after a difficult run of Test defeats for England.
He said: “There is sometimes a lot of rubbish that is spoken about a lot of different things and sometimes it gets into your mind and clutters it and then sometimes you have to just flick it.
“You have to listen to the people that matter to you more than the rest of the guys and that is the most important bit about it is me being me.
“The way Brendon has been, he just said you have to impose yourself on the game, that is literally all he said.
“It is an exciting way and it is the way I have always played my cricket and sometimes to the detriment of myself.
“It is a simple game that you sometimes overcomplicate so we are just trying to strip that down and allow people to go and play and express themselves in a way that will bring the best out of them as individuals and their personalities.
“And you talk about growing the game, that is how you grow the game by allowing people to connect with personalities and that is what we have been doing over the last few games.
“It is a buy in from everyone, from the head coach, right down to the guys making their debuts, right down to the guys coming into the squad.”
Overton’s ‘exceptional’ and ‘fearless’ debut batting display
Indeed, that player on debut was Overton (89no) with whom Bairstow formed an incredible partnership and England’s highest-ever seventh-wicket stand.
Bairstow praised Overton’s ability to be as “fearless” with the bat as he was with the ball on day one.
“We were 55-6 there and for Jamie to come in and play the way that he did on his debut under pressure, to have the confidence to come out and play the way that he did against a very, very good New Zealand attack is quite exceptional,” added Bairstow.
“It was a new experience out there with him so probably the less said the better.
“But I thought the way in which he played and the way he went around counter-attacking – he is fearless, he is absolutely fearless, he is standing there and absolutely whacking it.”
Butcher: England have the balance of courage and skill
Sky Sports’ Mark Butcher believes that a “transference of attitude” from the white ball team to the Test team has been the key to allowing England to play in such a courageous manner, the skill of Bairstow then helping to take the team to the next level.
“It is sensational and indescribable in ways,” said Butcher.
“England had a battle on their hands this morning getting rid of Daryll Mitchell, Blundell, we had DRS go out and we thought we had witnessed yesterday a return to normality.
“That was absolutely barking at times out there and all the better for it.
“What this England team are doing at the moment is staggering really.
“We know there are a lot of talented boys, we see it in the white-ball game and there has been this transference of attitude from that into the red ball stuff.
“It takes a lot of courage to play in that manner but it also takes a lot of skill.
“Anyone can fling the bat around but you might end up with 10 or 20 against bowling of that quality.
“But to go out there and assault them as Jonny Bairstow has done for the second time in consecutive innings along with a guy on his debut is just astonishing.”
England v New Zealand Test three continues on Saturday at 10.15am on Sky Sports Cricket, with play under way at 11am.